Living as an Octodad

The pile of indie games in my queue seem to have an overarching theme of seriousness and emotion, a combo that has finally been broken by the comedic flailing of <em>Octodad: Dadliest Catch.</em>

A sequel of the original indie hit <em>Octodad, </em>players take control of the tentacled family head, trying to maintain his disguise of actually being a human. The problem is you are in fact an octopus, and as such, the controls reflect your unfamiliar grasp on land-walking life. Walking is an awkward elastic stride that usually ensures you will be knocking absolutely everything over as you move. Picking up items are not a one-button affair, but an <em>Operation</em>-style attempt to string your tentacle to pick up the right item, not the other five things you knocked over on the way.

This is where the humour of <em>Octodad </em>largely comes from. Simple, mundane acts make up much of the gameplay, such as a section where you must do some lawn chores, mowing the lawn and picking weeds. Easy and boring in real life, but with a character fumbling around inhumanly, knocking over lawn gnomes along the way is pure sight gag.

The humour is punctuated by the fact that the ruse <em>works. </em>Even Scarlet, the &ldquo;Octomom,&rdquo; who is an investigative reporter, is simply baffled by some of the weird things that happen around him, not seeing the yellow cephalopod that&rsquo;s right in front of her. You&rsquo;re flopping around, spreading apples on the floor while trying to find the one you want, and everyone totally buys that you are a human. It&rsquo;s absurd. It&rsquo;s hilarious.

Things can get a little deep if you allow it to. People with conditions such as invisible disabilities or psychological issues, have pointed at this game as a metaphor for their feelings. I would recommend the<em> Telegraph</em> article &ldquo;How <em>Octodad</em> works as an analogy for invisible illnesses&rdquo; for interesting insight. Trying to be normal in a world where you just cannot interact with the world as readily is awkward and depressing for many. Some have mentioned psychological issues of feeling like a faker, feeling like another being in a human&rsquo;s world really speaks to them as a metaphor for trying to fit in, and feeling excluded and awkward.&nbsp;

<em>Octodad </em>is a tragedy if you look at it right, and the social commentary really adds to experience. Some of the flaws of the game make me question if this was intentional or not.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;

The game is not sinless and, frankly, the experience falls apart in the last act. <em>Octodad, </em>having intentionally terrible controls, is funny when you have simple, trivial tasks that you hilariously fail at. Unfortunately, the game attempts to have actual gameplay, with some stealth and platforming under pressure. And the controls cannot support actually having to competently do something.

&nbsp;A particular section had me trying to traverse some narrow platforms, a task that would already be pretty difficult with Octodad&rsquo;s lurching walk, if the platforms didn&rsquo;t also disintegrate and lead to an instant death. Many, many reloads of checkpoints occurred in the latter half of this game.

In general, things sort of fall apart at the end. The game tries to have a Pixar moment, where in a usually fun and comedic movie there&rsquo;s some serious and heartfelt stuff, but the ending comes off as rushed and a bit lazy, tying things up in a hollow way.

Really, this should simply be a game of fumbling around trying to do mundane things, allowing the absurdity of failing at simple tasks be the core gameplay. Still, the demo version on the PS4 kiosks does seem to have better controls and the developers have been responsive to complaints, so a patch may well fix some of the problems in the later sections.

Should you buy the game? Well, the simple concept and whether you find it funny or intriguing should be all you need to tell you whether to pick this up. As an indie title, which was started up on Kickstarter, as usual, I implore people to support the little guys who are trying to bring unique experiences to players.

<em>Octodad </em>may be flawed, but just like his family, people love him anyways.


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